Kenneth Goldblatt | October 20, 2018 | Personal Injury
The National Institutes of Health outlined how it was goint to use part of a $30 million grant from the NFL to finance research projects to answer some of the questions about how and why athletes sustain traumatic brain injuries.
The National Institutes of Health outlined Monday how it planned to use part of a $30 million grant from the NFL to finance a series of research projects designed to answer some of the most vexing questions about how and why athletes sustain traumatic brain injuries.
The agency said $12 million, most of it from the NFL, would go to two groups trying to identify chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., in living patients, not just in autopsies, as is the case now. To do that, they will try to define what is distinct about the condition. A total of $2 million will be given to six institutions more focused on concussions and young athletes.
The NFL, which has been widely criticized for the way it handled concussions in the past, has committed tens of millions of dollars to researchers studying concussions and the cognitive disorders linked to them. In addition to trying to help retired players who suffer from dementia, memory loss and other debilitating conditions, the league is trying to reassure parents that football is safe enough for their children to play.
To that end, the N.I.H. is financing several pilot projects that are trying to identify concussions and the effects of head hits on young players.
“Everywhere I go now, what people want to know is, ‘Should my kid play football or hockey?’ ” said Dr. Walter Koroshetz, the deputy director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, which is part of the N.I.H. “We need to know how common this is, how many injuries are too many, and prevent this from happening.”
The agency still has about $18 million from the NFL to allocate. The league said the agency was in charge of how its money would be spent.
“We hope our grant will accelerate the medical communities’ pioneering research to enhance the health of athletes — past, present and future — in all sports,” said Brian McCarthy, a spokesman for the league.
Koroshetz said the largest problem was not only how to identify concussions more effectively, but to predict how quickly athletes recover and how likely they are to develop long-term symptoms, or even C.T.E. To date, dozens of players have been found to have C.T.E. posthumously, but many more subjects are needed to refine the contours of the condition.
“What we don’t know is what the scope of the problem is,” Koroshetz said. “We don’t know if we’re seeing the tip of the iceberg, or the whole iceberg.”
To that end, the N.I.H. has allocated $12 million to researchers at Boston University School of Medicine, a leader in diagnosing C.T.E. in deceased players, and doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, which is working with researchers at the University of Washington who have been examining the brain tissue of thousands of people.
Dr. Ann McKee and her colleagues at Boston University will “define a clear set of criteria for the various stages of C.T.E. and to distinguish it from Alzheimer’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other neurodegenerative disorders.”
The second project, led by Dr. Wayne Gordon at Mount Sinai Hospital, will seek to describe the effects of mild, moderate and severe brain trauma and compare them to features of C.T.E.
Six other projects will receive a total of $2 million and last for up to two years. One project, worth $100,000, will finance a pilot study to look at a chemical in the brain known as gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, and what role it plays in sports-related concussions.
Doctors at Seattle Children’s Hospital, which evaluates athletes who receive concussions, will give magnetic resonance imaging tests to at least 10 high school students who receive concussions for the first time to see if they have elevated levels of the chemical.
“One of the big mysteries is they have cognitive issues, but nothing shows up on images,” said Dr. Jeffrey Ojemann, the division chief of neurosurgery at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “The $100,000 could help us scratch the surface and tell us where to go from there.”
Traumatic brain injury can have long lasting consequences for the victim in extensive medical bills and post treatment. To learn more about Traumatic Brain Injury, contact the New York brain injury lawyers at Goldblatt and Associates to schedule a free consultation. We serve accident victims in New York including New York City, Bronx, Brooklyn, Westchester and Putnam Counties, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo. We offer a free consultation, and receive no fee unless we are successful. Call 1-800-567-9888 today.